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Arguing the World (1998)

Alan Rosenberg , Nathan Glazer , Joseph Dorman  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alan Rosenberg, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell (II), Irving Kristol, Irving Howe
  • Directors: Joseph Dorman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Z2NKY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,554 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Arguing the World" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This enthralling film captures an era when the world depended on ideas as much as arms. With the Cold War raging and competing political philosophies vying to exert influence in every corner of the globe, four brilliant men--Irving Howe, Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer and Irving Kristol-- tried to change the world with their ideas.
From their youth in New York's immigrant neighborhoods and their idealistic college days to the great battles during the McCarthy era and the 1960s, Arguing the World is "a potent generational experience" (J. Hoberman, Village Voice), "among the rare works that brings the lives of the mind to life on screen" (Robert Sklar, The Forward).


An epic adventure in the dangerous world of ideas! --New York Post

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual metamorphosis April 28, 2005
This excellent documentary traces the careers and political evolutions of four "New York intellectuals": Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Irving Howe and Irving Kristol. They all started as anti-Stalinist leftists at City College of NY in the Thirties; wrote for "Partisan Review," "Dissent," "Commentary" and other left-wing and liberal publications; published erudite books, and received teaching positions at prestige universities. And, except for Howe, they all moved well to the right as they got older.

All of this is fascinating, especially the transition to the right, and their collision with the New Left in the Sixties. By that time, they'd all gotten recognition and prestigious university appointments--in Bob Dylan's words, they now "had something to protect." They're uniformly critical of the student radicals who sought them out in the early days of the New Left. Glazer, author of "Beyond the Melting Pot," refused to support the "Free Speech Movement" at UC Berkeley, while Bell and Howe have special disdain for Tom Hayden of SDS (Howe says "he had something of the Commissar about him," while Bell calls him "the Richard Nixon of the Left"). The (aging) New Leftists interviewed have equal scorn for them--Hayden says that they were spouting off while "I was going to jail for my beliefs" and dismisses Howe pithily: "I wasn't raised in a household where everyone shouted at each other." A former Berkeley student says, "Their idea of protest was to write a letter to the editor." Only Howe (who translated Yiddish poetry and wrote a highly regarded history of Jews in NYC) remained faithful to Socialism.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguing the World November 21, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is probably the most coherent and mesmerizing documentary on the birth of Socialism in America and the direct impact it had in fueling the radical upsurgence in the sixties. I absolutely loved this film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into the origin of contemporary politics March 31, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful film, entertaining and intelligent, about a generation of intellectuals who met at City College in the nineteen-thirties, immediately began arguing, and never stopped. They became the dominant intellectuals in New York City for more than thirty years, spawning not only the New Left but also the original neo-conservatives. If you're at all interested in where the arguments that now dominate American politics came from, this is an invaluable film. And even if you're not, it's an entertaining collection of personalities for whom the quest to understand the world was always a vigorous wrestling match.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alcove One is America's 20th century intellectual history February 26, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I know of no other filmmaker who, like Joseph Dorman, so thoroughly captured the people, history, and ideas of an era as to go on to publish a book on the same subject through a major university (University of Chicago Press). This documentary is matchless. It was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The film covers both the lives of these four New York Intellectuals but also the socio-political thought of America in the twentieth-century.

Early in the feature, political philosopher Michael Walzer says, "If I try to think about the New York intellectual and specifically about these four New York Intellectuals, one of the most striking things about, in a way, of thinking about the world. You can't being to analyze, say, the recent strikes in Detroit without starting with the division of labor in ancient Babylonia and working your way up: that's the context, the context is world history, and the questions you bring to your analysis are the largest questions, where are you going, where have you been."

In 1932, socialist candidate Norman Thomas, air to the party's Eugene V. Debs, won nearly a million votes in the presidential election, many of his supporters where from the new urban class of Jews. The socialist idea that inspired Daniel Bell and Irving Howe appeared first 100 years earlier by Karl Marx. Nathan Glazer's father read "The Forward," a socialist paper, and voted for Norman Thomas, Irving Kristol learned about radical politics from his sister who took him to the protest plays of Clifford Odets. Daniel Bell said, "When I joined the Epsilons in 1932, this is when Norman Thomas is running for president and a group of us would go from corner to corner with a step ladder to give talks...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This documentary exposes the viewer to four of the most noted members of New York's famous intellectual "Family" who were central to political and literary thought from the middle of last century on.
The film gives a decent look at where these men were from and, through interviews with them, it gives a good feel as to their positions on several topics then and now.
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